Opening May Asian Heritage Month, the highly successful San Francisco 8th Asian Heritage Street Celebration, May 19, 2012, drew a crowd of over 90,000 spectators in one exciting bright and sunny Saturday!
By 7AM, volunteers were setting up their booths to open promptly at 11AM until 6PM along Larkin Street from Civic Center to Little Saigon. By 11AM, throngs of people were eagerly awaiting the opening of the Fair! The fair featured different sections: the Children’s Area, the Healthy Living Pavilion with its new Alternative and Asian Medicine Section, the Arts and Crafts Section, the J-cars showcases, the Food section, the Street Performers’ Stage and the Cooking Demo Stages.
The fair started off with a 30 minute blessing from monks of San Bruno based Thai temple Wat Buddhapradeep, followed by the Faces of Asia Cultural Procession arranged by the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center. The parade exhibited a dazzling display of ethnic attire from a variety of cultures including Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Laotian and Cambodian. Another entertainment perk throughout the rest of the day were the cooking demos which featured celebrity chef Martin Yan, The Slanted Door’s owner and executive chef Charles Phan, co-owner of Nombe Restaurant Mari Takahashi, cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, chef Steve Cortez, and BBC America’s Chef Kayne Raymond. Music from a lineup of local San Francisco music artists were played live all day in the Street Performer’s Stage where fair goers could sit and lounge around whenever they please. The music ranged from something as mellow as jazz to something as modern and hip as rap. In addition to the fair amenities, Target sponsored an all-day free public admission to the Asian Art Museum, one of the largest museums in the western world devoted exclusively to Asian art and culture located conveniently within the fair itself. Fair goers could enjoy the Asian Art Museum’s exclusive exhibits which includes the featured gallery: Phantoms of Asia, Contemporary Awakens the past.
For the adults there were jazz and wine tastings in the SF Jazz Revue. It included music of tenor saxophonist Jonathan Bautista Quintet featuring Winston Raval on piano and the sounds of Kulintronica with guitarist and kulintang player Ron Quesada (Filipino music.) In a separate section, adults could also play mah jong, a popular Asian game involving stone tiles and boasts of different styles such as Filipino, Chinese and Taiwanese. Coaching was also available for novices. All members of the family also could enjoy food provided by a variety of food booths and vendors in the Food section of the fair. Food included a variety of Asian food and beverages such as chow mein, Vietnamese noodles and rolls, BBQ, Indian curry, Japanese tapioca and fresh sugar cane juice. There was also a variety of art and crafts on display which ranged from wood art, jewelry, paintings, glass blowing and clothing that were nearly all Asian inspired or themed.
But the Asian Heritage Street Celebration wasn’t just a fair for adults, it also included activities for children, such as: rock climbing, games, folklore storytelling, planting seeds in milk cartons, live animal encounters and finger painting. Kids were also engaged in making leis, fans and paper lanterns, introducing them to the different aspects of Asian heritage and tying in with the theme of the fair. A wishing tree originated in Chinese culture also allowed children to write their wishes and tie them to the tree in hopes that they would come true. Volunteers from Public Allies helped kids learn tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance. There was also a bouncy house, a face painting booth and a huge bookmobile that had large letter magnets on its exterior that allowed children to play and arrange words.
With so many family amenities, there was another side to the 8th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration. This year the fair included a new and expanded Healthy Living Pavilion which included Alternative and Chinese Medicine and Qigong.. It consisted of many community health groups and sponsor booths that collectively promoted health and wellness to the public. This meant a variety of free health screenings and education. A collective effort was made by California Pacific Medical Center, Subaru, Brown & Toland Physicians, Gilead, Onyx Pharmaceutical, Genentech, and Bristol Myers Squibb, to promote awareness of Hepatitis B through free MD consultations and educational brochures and free Hepatitis B testing. There was also free health screenings, tests and/or education for blood pressure, lupus, eyes, HIV, glucose and whooping cough hosted by a variety of booths from Kaiser Permanente, SF Lupus Support Group, Newman Lasik, Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, North East Medical Services and CVS Pharmacies. In addition to these community health groups, a new variety of booths dedicated to alternative medicine were added into the Healthy Living Pavilion this year. Some booths got creative and involved spinning a wheel for prizes (Kaiser Permanente and CPMC.) Other booths had free giveaways such as flashlights and pens.
The Healthy Living Pavilion included for the first time, a new dimension to the world of medicine: alternative medicine booths. Invited to be the co-ordinator and in-house expert was Dr. Effie Chow (PhD, RN, LicAc, DiplAc) Founder and President of the East West Academy of Healing Arts, Qigong Grandmaster, Chair of the annual World Congress on Qigong/Traditional Chinese Medicine. It was the beginning of a life-long partnership with its success. The goal was for alternative and Chinese medicine to have a greater presence and provide information in these broad categories: 1) The Asian and Chinese Healing Arts and Sciences (ACHAS), 2) Integrative Body/Mind Medicine (IBMM), 3) Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) to educate people on how to achieve optimum state of health (mind/ body/spirit in harmony with the environment) by moving beyond the limitations of western medicine: a “must do” to thrive in today’s challenged world. The final number of booths exceeded the expectation of director Ted Fang. From the exciting variety of booths, information and demonstrations were available about different forms of alternative medicine, such as application of White Flower ointment or moxa, free healing and massages, and even taste testing of ancient aged tea that is supposed to boost your overall vitality and free spinal tests. The California Institute of Integrative Studies provided information about how interested members could sign up for classes that solely focus on alternative medicine and healing that also connect with mind-body-spirit wholeness, a huge theme in what the other booths in the alternative medicine field were advocating.
At the Healthy Living Pavilion an on-going half-hour interactive participatory presentations were held on a stage throughout the entire day arranged by Dr. Chow of East West Academy of Healing Arts. Well-known experts and presenters included many qigong masters who have different backgrounds and styles. The first presenter was Ryo Eguchi from Japan who presented the many health benefits of Shaolin Temple qi, leading the audience in qigong exercises that could help with chronic body ailments and pain. Warming up the audience to qigong healing was also Master Mingtong Gu, an internationally recognized teacher and healer who received his training from a variety of Grandmasters of China, Tibet and at the world’s largest Qigong hospital. The presentations were soon followed by Grandmaster Effie Chow who led the audience in how Chow qigong heart meditation which prescribes much laughing and hugging for a better health, can improve your overall wellbeing. This was shortly followed by a presentation on Laminine, a natural food supplement also advocated by Dr Effie Chow and her associate, Gloria Untermann. Later on there was an introductory presentation to traditional Chinese medicine with a demo of acupuncture, cupping and moxa by Nancy Burns, licensed acupuncturist, owner of Valley Acupuncture and associate admissions director for the Five Branches University. Burns wasn’t the only person who spoke from an educational institution. There was also Olivia Ou and Jessica Chen of Pangu Research Institute who presented Pangu Shengong, a simple and powerful self-healing gigong practice that involves regulating and intensifying an individual’s life force and immune system. Gigi Oh, owner of Kung Fu Magazine and Tiger Claw and TC Media, and Gene Ching Publisher of Kung Fu Magazine were exhibitors and speakers on their upcoming 20th Anniversary Martial Arts Competition and Celebration June 9 and 10 in San Jose Convention Center.
Later on during the day there was a presentation by Master Jian Jia Mu who taught her practice called “Pathways to the Universe” to the audience. It comprised of simple movements that you could make to better your wellbeing. Such examples include pain relief and weight reduction. It was followed by a presentation from Wendy Ellen of Zhi Dao Quan who taught Cochran Five Animal Play Qigong which is considered one of the oldest forms of qigong that involves Taoist alchemy. The afternoon also called for another presentation on Laminine and another Chow Qigong exercise headed by Grandmaster Effie Chow, Ann Colichidas and Mai Ta Ngoc. There was also a presentation about the California Institute of Integrative Studies by Kareen Patterson.
People who visited the alternative medicine booths seemed to be actively participating in the activities given by presenters whether it was actively listening to informational presentations or stretching and meditating through instruction of qigong masters or teachers. There was even an instance in which a woman from the audience was able to stretch her arms to their fullest potential despite having suffered years of arthritis pain after a brief 10 minute session with Dr. Effie Chow, one of the presenters who is a noted qigong Grandmaster. This was one of the instances in which the audience was directly influenced by the presentations of alternative medicine. Even the volunteers helping coordinate the alternative medicine booth stopped to participate in the audience activities and qigong master-led exercises. The audience ranged from someone as young as their adolescence to elderly folk with many self-expressed body ailments. There was also a drawing at the end of the day for the alternative medicine booths. Prizes included free qigong classes, free ointments and even a free bed and breakfast.
Overall the Asian Heritage Street Festival was a great way for a person to discover and experience the many aspects and pride of Asian heritage culture whether it is through the food, the music, the parade or health. The health aspect of the Asian Heritage Street Festival was particularly emphasized this year to include not just one dimension of health education which is the usual contemporary modern medicine but alternative medicine as well, which dates back to centuries. A person could safely assume that it was an event that satisfied everyone’s entertainment and curiosities, especially when it comes to health and wellbeing.